Perfecscope stereoscopic viewer for 1900 Paris Exposition

United States, c. 1900

Photograph by Egmont Contreras, ACMI.

Three-dimensional images have been around for more than 180 years – they just weren’t called ‘3D’. Stereoscopic images are two separate pictures with slightly different perspectives. A stereoscopic viewer mimics how we see so that the two images converge into a single three-dimensional picture.

British inventor Charles Wheatstone discovered this process in 1838 and used a device as big as a table to make it work. Another British scientist, David Brewster, later simplified and shrank the viewer into a portable, hand-held device.

Stereoscopic viewers were popular home entertainment in the Victorian era. They let people see 3D engineering wonders, like new skyscrapers and railroads, as well as sightseeing slides from across the natural world.


In ACMI's collection

On display until

16 February 2031

ACMI: Gallery 1



The Keystone View Company

Production places
United States
Production dates
c. 1900

Appears in

Group of items

Stereoscopic viewers and cards


Collection metadata

ACMI Identifier


Curatorial section

The Story of the Moving Image → Moving Pictures → MI-08. Immersive Innovations → MI-08-C01


300 x 500 x 200mm (Viewer, approx.) 88 x 178 x 10mm (Stereoscopic image cards, each)

Object Types

3D Object

Optical Toy


Aluminium metal and wood

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